By Lt. Col. Cynthia KingOctober 7, 2019
FORT BLISS, Texas - "If we are in an environment where we can't get a hemorrhaging Soldier to a hospital fast enough, having a walking blood bank can save that person's life," said U.S. Army Maj. Adam Clark, Charlie Medical company commander, 230th Brigade Support Battalion, 30th Armored Brigade Combat Team.
U.S. Army medics in the 30th Armored Brigade Combat Team, partnered with the Fort Bliss Blood Donor Center and hosted a blood drive near Fort Bliss, Texas, Sept. 27-28, 2019. During that period, they screened more than 200 Soldiers in the unit who could be universal donors.
"Our goal was to identify all of the O-negative blood types and screen their blood to see who meets the requirements to be part of a walking blood bank," said Clark.
O-negative blood is the universal blood type, meaning these individuals are able to donate to patients with any blood type. By having a list of individuals who meet all of the criteria to be universal donors, the walking blood bank enables medical personnel to transfuse blood directly from the donor into a patient quickly.
"I lost a family friend who passed away because he did not get whole blood," said Clark.
U.S. Army Capt. Annette Mott, Chief of Blood Services, Blood Donor Center at Fort Bliss, said that her staff was supporting the 30th Armored Brigade Combat Team to assist with pre-screening blood and ensuring those who meet the qualifications can be entered into the theater-specific database to be candidates for emergency donations.
"We want to confirm their blood type and perform other tests to ensure that the blood is safe, potent and pure," said Mott. "We ship blood at least every 4 days into theater."
According to Mott, since the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, more than 350,000 blood products have been transfused in theater to save service members.
"This blood drive with the 30th Armored Brigade Combat Team is a win for us as a donor center, as we have never collected so many O-negatives in one place," said Mott.
From screening to the time the Soldiers finish donating blood takes approximately 30 minutes, added U.S. Army 1st Lt. Eve Tanas, brigade nurse in the 30th Armored Brigade Combat Team. She said that while they understand some individuals do not care for needles, it is unfortunate when they chose not to donate.
"It's important to think of the Soldiers to the left and right of you," said Tanas. "Not only are you serving your country, you are also serving your fellow Soldiers when you donate blood."
Each Soldier during the drive was provided reading material about donating blood and asked to answer questions about their prior medical and travel history. Once they passed the initial screening, the medical personnel collected one-pint of blood. At the conclusion of the drive, more than 150 pints of blood were collected.
"It's safe, easy and we take care of our own," said Tanas. "There are many medical personnel ready to assist and ensure individuals are safe and comfortable when donating blood."
The 30th Armored Brigade Combat Team is comprised of Soldiers from the North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia and Ohio Army National Guard. The unit is mobilized to support Task Force Spartan for Operation Spartan Shield in the Middle East.